by Meghan Conrad
The LGBTQ reader panel at RomantiCon 2009 was very well attended--way more than forty people, and we ended up with standing room only. (My thanks--and apologies--to those of you who ended up standing or sitting on the floor.) Most of the people there were already fans of M/M romance, and we had a fantastic participation rate--I think that most of the participants ended up saying something at some point, and we had quite a few shows of hands that polled everyone.
What readers don’t like:
- Twinks (Slim, boyish men, generally without body hair, often seen as rather shallow and self-absorbed.)
- Subby men (Men who are excessively submissive--readers were quite clear that they'd like their men to be, if not alpha males, at least able to occasionally stand up to an alpha male.)
- Flamers—the characters should read like men, not like women with a biological strap-on.
- Overly emotional men—weepiness and florid declarations of love don’t go over well.
- Books that are effectively an M/F story with an M/F dynamic, only the part of the F happens to be played by a man.
- Books that have “OMG, I’m gay!” as the plot.
- M/M without penetration. (Readers commented that lack of penetration in an M/M makes them feel like they’ve been misled or ripped off.)
- Demonizing women to make it more understandable that the men are interested in each other.
- Scenes with a woman in an otherwise M/M book.
What readers like:
- Less dominant partners who are still strong and masculine.
- Pushy bottoms
- Topping from the bottom.
- “Gay for you” stories—stories in which one or both characters don’t necessarily identify as gay, but feel that they’ve found their perfect match in this person, who happens to be of the same gender.
- A different sexual dynamic to M/M than you’d find in an M/F story—rougher and cruder.
- Fewer stereotypes—enough gay photographers, artists, and other sensitive types. They’d like to see some gay sports players, cops, and construction workers.
- Fluid sexuality
- Equality between partners in F/F books
- Strong emotional ties between characters—books that are more than just sex.
What readers would like to see more of:
- Straight men crossdressing
- Drag performers
- More emotional build to F/F stories--while most readers had no problem believing that two men would just fall into bed, they'd like to have a slower, more emotional connection between two women.